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Leinster squad stretched as Cullen set to be without 35 players for Dragons trip

Injuries and international commitments has left the province with a severely depleted panel.

Leo Cullen faced the media in UCD earlier.
Leo Cullen faced the media in UCD earlier.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

LEINSTER ARE DOWN to the bare bones for Friday’s trip to face the Dragons after Leo Cullen revealed there are up to 35 players unavailable for the clash at Rodney Parade.

Such is the extent of Leinster’s injury crisis, the head coach arrived for Monday’s media briefing with a printed list of all the absentees, which didn’t include the 16 players from the province who have now reported for Ireland duty.

Marty Moore, who was due to link up with Joe Schmidt’s side at Carton House, has been ruled out of the Six Nations with a grade two hamstring tear and becomes the latest player to enter the treatment room.

There were just “15 to 20″ players available for squad training this afternoon in UCD with Cullen facing the reality of bringing a severely depleted panel to Wales for the Guinness Pro12 fixture.

“Isa Nacewa had a minor issue with his knee so he had a surgical procedure done last week so he’ll be out for two to three weeks,” Cullen explained.

“Royce-Burke Flynn has been training with us and has been contracted for the season but had a procedure done to his neck which was a lot more serious so he’ll be out for about four months.

Zane Kirchner Just 20 players were available for squad training on Monday. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“Mike Ross, Cian Healy, Collie O’Shea have been rehabbing and they’re still a number of weeks away. Tom Denton was one that was due to be involved last week but broke down in training on Thursday so he is again a week or two away from returning.

“Hayden Triggs is getting close to being back as is Mick Kearney, Jack Conan is three to four weeks and Ed Byrne, Gav Thornbury are little bit longer.

“There are a couple of academy guys unavailable too who would be considered for selection but all in all, it leaves us with 30-35 players unavailable this weekend which is not an ideal situation and that’s where we find ourselves.

“It creates a huge opportunity for the players that are fit and available.”

Leinster go into Friday’s game off the back of seven straight Pro12 wins, a run of form which has seen them surge up the table to second.

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Ryan Bailey

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